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The lovely letter Richard Burton wrote after an invite to appear in panto in Wales

17 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Richard Burton and the letter to Stan Stennett

David Owens

One was a classically trained Shakespearean actor, the other a much loved panto star.

Both were heroes in Wales.

So when Welsh comic and master of panto, Stan Stennett, wrote a letter to the screen idol inviting him to appear as the Baron alongside him in Cinderella in Porthcawl in 1971, it was sent with tongue in cheek and a large dollop of hope over any expectation.

Now 50+ years later, the lovely, light hearted letter Richard Burton sent to Stan Stennett has been made public, by Roger Stennett, Stan’s son.

It’s a warmhearted gem of a response, which references Burton’s schooldays in Rest Bay and obvious fondness for his homeland.

“One day, in 1971, out of a wickedness and his sense of humour he thought, ‘Oh, I’ll write to Richard and offer him the part of the Baron Hardup, a classic part in Cinderella, and maybe Liz would like to play a very non-ugly sister,” Roger recalled.

“It was just a cheeky little tongue-in-cheekness, nothing more or less.

“I don’t think he genuinely expected him to move over from Switzerland to Porthcawl for X weeks to do panto, but it was just a little bit of whimsy.

“Though I don’t know how he had his address.”

Sadly, Richard had to turn down Stan’s kind offer, but was nonetheless beautifully gracious in his letter.

He wrote: “Dear Mr Stennett,

“Thank you very much for your offer of the Baron in Cinders. I would love to do it – especially in front of a Welsh audience and particularly with you, as Eliz- and I like your work very much. And that is not meant chauvinistically (Christ what a word!) I assure you. But lamentably I am heavily committed for the next hundred years or so. Also, the tax boys say that I must not work in Britain – which unfortunately includes Wales – until next summer – if then.

“Give my love to Rest Bay. I cannot tell you how many times I was lost in Porthcawl on Sunday-school “outings” crying for my sister.

“Good luck for the pantomime and thank you again.”

Stan Stennett in panto (Credit: Creative Commons)

Roger told the Glamorgan Gazette, the response was “wonderful”, and added “I honestly don’t think you’d find many cinematic megastars now taking the time to do that. But I think it was a gesture of respect to my dad, which of course I prize.

“And, I think it was a gesture of respect for Wales, because it was a recollection of the fact that he dearly would love to work in Wales.”

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